Update: On April 26, 2021, Dr. Barker accepted the position of President of Converse University.
Dear Converse Community,
Today, September 18, 2020, Dr. Jeff Barker announced his retirement as Provost, effective June 30, 2021. His letter to our faculty is included below. Although he will retire as Provost, he will continue with Converse in the upcoming years as a full-time professor. Jeff joined Converse in 2002 as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, and in 2015 became our Provost. Dr. Barker has served as our Chief Academic and Student Life Officer, SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison, and a Professor of Philosophy.
Although he will retire as Provost, will continue with Converse as a full-time professor.
On behalf of the entire Converse community, I want to thank Jeff for his nineteen years of leadership and service at Converse. His commitment to the students and faculty of Converse is evident through his long list of accomplishments that have had our Converse community and its advancement and well-being at their center. Jeff’s leadership in expanding the educational experience for our students impacts our undergraduate and graduate curriculum, and his accomplishments are numerous and far-reaching. During his tenure, Jeff assisted with the planning, modeling, and implementation of our tuition reset and undergraduate model change, both of which made Converse more accessible and affordable for academically-qualified students.
He created the Converse International School and developed program partnerships in China, opening doors for more international students to experience the welcoming community and academic rigor at Converse. Working with Dr. Lienne Medford, he was instrumental in Converse becoming a doctoral-granting institution, implemented the development of our programs at the University Center of Greenville, and introduced online courses and programs at Converse. He also oversaw the development of six new undergraduate majors, six new minors, five new certificates/tracks, two new degree completion programs, and eight new graduate degree programs, many of which were innovatively developed to meet industry needs and requests for college graduates with applicable training and marketable skills straight out of college. Jeff has driven Converse vibrantly forward by creating community partnerships for the greater good of our students, Spartanburg, and the region, including working with our Education programs in the development of Valkyrie Middle College with Spartanburg District Seven, enlisting Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System as a clinical site for our Music Therapy program as well as developing the Health Care Administration programs in concert with them. His diligence in pursuing and maintaining these partnerships has extended opportunities for our students well beyond the classroom.
Most recently, Jeff worked tirelessly with our faculty to implement a complete relocation of our academic programming to online beginning in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to quickly pivot and adapt for the safety and health of our Converse community. Jeff is a well-respected author, scholar, and academic leader. He is often consulted by others in academia and is highly sought-after to chair accreditation committees – particularly for challenging situations. In short, Jeff has left a lasting and positive impact on Converse, the fields of philosophy and medical ethics, his students, and many other institutions. On a personal note, Jeff welcomed me and remains a wonderful colleague, friend, and advisor.
He brought a careful and measured approach to each situation as we worked together to expand academic programs, research and implement the model change, and develop a plan to move forward while always honoring our history and mission. While I will miss working with him in this role, I celebrate this next step for him. I know that Jan and Sam will appreciate that he has more time to spend with them while also competing in more triathlons.
Dr. Boone Hopkins will be appointed interim Provost during the 2021-22 academic year, as Converse conducts a search for a new Provost during that time. Boone has worked diligently over the years taking on an ever-expanding list of duties and responsibilities that have prepared him for this next step. He truly wants what is best for Converse and fully supports conducting a full search for this important position. Please join me in extending our thanks to Jeff for his service to Converse and for his future with us as a member of our faculty and advisor for our five-year accreditation process. Sincerely,